First established in 1988, the Blackhawk Automotive Museum in Danville, Calif., showcases classic cars in two main galleries throughout its 70,000-square-foot architectural “jewel box” setting. Comprised of polished black granite floors and dark walls and ceilings all around, the museum's artful façade was specially designed to highlight the priceless automobiles in much the same way as a diamond is beautifully displayed in a case, noted Blackhawk's Executive Director Timothy McGrane.
“It was important that the lighting we chose highlighted the aesthetics and rare beauty of the cars,” McGrane said. “The variety of paint colors, along with the diverse mixture of upholstery fabrics and chrome details all needed to be correctly color-illuminated among the exhibits.”
In a space where it is crucial that the environment and lighting must complement one another, the museum sought an energy-efficient lighting solution that showcased the vivid colors and details of its automobile exhibits in their pristine forms—while helping to slash its lighting energy consumption. Additionally, Blackhawk had a dignified reputation to uphold, being renowned as one of the leading classic car museums in the world for the significance and exclusivity of the auto gems it holds.
“Making the transition to LED was not taken lightly,” McGrane said. “Just because a lamp fits the socket doesn't mean it's right for the application—our classic cars called for a custom LED solution that would deliver both the aesthetics and energy savings we desired.”
GE's 18-watt PAR38 LED lamps were installed throughout the upper and lower levels of the museum as a one-to-one replacement for its previous 90-watt halogen lamps. Meanwhile, 20-watt GE PAR38 LED lamps, PAR20 LED lamps and MR16 LED lamps were used in areas of the museum where dimming was required. The new LED lighting system will use about 51,511 total watts versus the 224,614 total watts used with the previous halogen lamp layout, while also offering greater aesthetics and control over light distribution throughout the facility with nearly the same light output.
Ideal for indoor and outdoor applications in retail, commercial, hospitality spaces and more, GE's LED replacement lamps provide energy efficiency, long life and high color rendering in a variety of beam patterns.
Results & Benefits
With more than 970 halogen lamps replaced, Blackhawk is anticipating energy savings of nearly 77 percent in lighting energy usage and a reduced electricity bill of more than $25,965 each year (based on 2,461 hours of annual operation for lighting on the lower museum floor and 3,316 hours on the upper museum floor; and an electricity rate of 0.15¢/kWh), while bringing a new polish to its stunning selection of classic automobiles and memorabilia.
“The cars just ‘POP' now with the new LED lighting!” McGrane said. “The vibrancy of the different paint colors really stands out and visitors have even been commenting on how great they look—they're realizing incidentally that the new lighting is the cause.”
With advanced optics that deliver excellent light uniformity and a low-glare design, GE's patented Visual Comfort Lens™ also helped Blackhawk make a seamless transition from halogen to LED.
“We wanted to avoid looking up and seeing little dots of diodes on the ceiling because that meant there would also be dots on the cars,” McGrane noted. “The Visual Comfort Lens helped soften the look of the gallery and really sealed the GE deal for us.”
Additionally, the switch to LED lighting means greater longevity for the museum's lighting system—and less maintenance time and costs compared to previous upkeep needs—due to a rated lifetime of 25,000 to 50,000 hours.
“We couldn't afford to replace our lamps as frequently as before,” McGrane said. “We wanted a solution we knew we could depend on, and GE brought that to us with the LED replacement lamps.”